The Speech of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in the Celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday

  • | Saturday, 26 December, 2015

Honorable attendees!

May Allah’s Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you!

President of Egypt, Egyptian people, Muslim and Arab nations, it gives me great pleasure to express my congratulations for the coming of the birthday anniversary of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who is the best, the greatest, the noblest and most merciful of all humans; may Allah’s peace and Blessings be upon him and upon all other Prophets and Messengers.

It is a pleasure for me also to express best congratulations to our Christian brothers in Egypt and all over the world for the birthday of the Prophet of mercy and peace, Jesus, Son of Mary, May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive.

It is a glad tiding and a good omen to bid farewell to the old year and start the coming year while celebrating these two great occasions, as they raise hope in the hearts of Muslims and Christians; a hope to start a new year and have a brilliant future in which there shall prevail the spirit of fraternity, loyalty to our nation and hard work to promote stability, achieve progress and development and stand against terrorism and armed groups that threaten peoples and lands.

Honorable attendees!

It is too difficult or even impossible, for anyone who meditates the history of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) to cover his great history at one session or lecture, or even to cover one aspect of his humane and Prophetic greatness. His life was an embodiment of the perfect human and the marvelous personality with all of its aspects. His biography was uniquely and accurately recorded that we do not miss any details of his childhood and youth, his moral and physical qualities and even his movements. All this has been recorded by historians in more than one hundred topics in the books of the Prophetic biography and history. They narrated everything regarding his life, conduct, behaviors, transactions, treatment and worship. We have no such recording for the life of any great figure other than Muhammad (PBUH).

Such greatness of this personality has been a source of guidance for seekers of the truth, and it has been an example to follow by those who pursue goodness, benevolence and beauty.

The personality of Muhammad has embodied "the good example and the sublime approach for human life at all of its stages, because his character combined high morals, good behaviors, noble feelings and great and straight tendencies."[1]

The rich will find an example in the character of Muhammad (PBUH) as he was a merchant who had his trading between the Arabian Peninsula and Ancient Syria; the poor and the needy will find an example in his (PBUH) life because after starting his mission to convey the message of God, he did not care about the possessions of this world’s life, as it is authentically reported that he (PBUH) left the world without having eaten his fill with barley bread.[2] A leader- victorious or defeated- will find an example too in his (PBUH) life. The same applies to teachers, learners, the young men, the aged, fathers, husbands, friends, orphans, the needy, the distressed, the healthy, the sick, etc.[3]

All those will find examples to follow, or a source of comfort in his (PBUH) life and great character.

Therefore, it is not a wonder that Allah has chosen him to be manifestation of human perfection and realities of Faith, and said about him, "He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah; but those who turn away - We have not sent you over them as a guardian" (Q 4: 80), and said, "Say, [O Muhammad], "If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful" (Q 3: 31) and even said, "Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, [O Muhammad] - they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands." (Q 48: 10)

Today as we celebrate the birthday of this noble Prophet, we feel a dire need to renovate our life in its personal, social and humane aspects, in the light of this Prophetic guidance and morals. We need to search in the spaces of this personality for a cure for all crises that our Arab and Muslim nation suffer, and these crises that started to haunt us and threaten our future portending the worst consequences.

We state again that nothing will rectify the final generations of this nation except that which rectified its foremost, which means to institute its unity on the bases of religious and national fraternity as it was stated in the Constitution of Medina.[4]

We surely know that the Prophet Muhammad, whom we are celebrating his birthday, was sent to an idolatrous nation which was disunited even in their creeds. Each tribe adopted an idol to worship, which was different from other tribes’. They were disunited in their social system as their social system was based on different classes, and each class was dealing with prejudices and hostility against others. They were disunited in their political system, as there was no government or law.  Rather, the predominant rule was tribal bias, and there were noting like national unity or peaceful coexistence, but only tribal brotherhood, and the rule of power.

At the hands of the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions after migration, this scattered nation changed to be an ideal society that could be compared to Utopia that was the dream of philosophers. It is so interesting that such change from one extreme to the other took place within a short time that was no more than 10 years. And it was only 90 years afterwards, that this new nation –through justice, fairness and love- has raised its flags over different territories of the world from Andalusia in the west to China in the east.

Today, as the bonds of unity have weakened and the ties of religious and national fraternity have been severed and the spirit of intolerance has spread amongst the different groups and schools of thought that have lived together with love, peace, tolerance and mutual respect for more than 14 centuries, and after disputes and killing became deeply rooted in our relationships, we have nothing to do but to be inspired with the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his guidance in overcoming such prejudice. It is the only way to break this impasse that we reached either intentionally or unintentionally, lest we may face the Divine Promise as stated in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an, "And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient." (Q 8: 46), and the Hadith that states, “The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish. Someone asked: Will that be because of our small numbers at that time? He replied: No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent, and Allah will remove fear of you from the hearts of your enemy and last wahn (enervation) into your hearts. Someone asked: What is wahn (enervation). Messenger of Allah (PBUH): He replied: Love of the world and dislike of death."[5]

Think about this parable given by the Prophet (PBUH) as it perfectly depicts our status quo. There is a dish of delicious food, and there some hungry persons who are lurking to call one another and attack this dish and distribute it among themselves. If we are to translate the meaning of this dish to mean the material, intellectual and human treasures of Muslims and Arabs the example will clearly apply to our present world.

Actually, we have nothing to do but to stand by those calls inviting for unity, and to support these calls, as they are alone –with the Help of Allah- capable of rescuing our nation from its crises. Our nation still has causes of unity and alliance that are not available to some other countries that have united though the variety of their languages, races and ideologies. It may be a blessing of the subject personality of our celebration, that we see the military Islamic alliance that Allah has guided Muslim and Arab rulers to form in order to overcome the armed and terrorist groups. We at Al-Azhar believe in the necessity of armed struggle against such groups and we welcome this alliance asking Allah to give it overwhelming victory against this terrifying nightmare. However, Al-Azhar as well calls to form an alliance of faithful scholars and intellectuals to face this terrorism through deconstruction of its bases and refuting its arguments in the minds of victims, as we strongly believe that thought should be fought against with thought and sound arguments.

Al-Azhar –though calling for unity of our nation- realizes the peculiarity of each Muslim and Arab country; it calls in fact for the unity of higher objectives and common interests.

At the end, I cannot forget the lives of those who sacrificed their souls defending their nation and people. I ask the Almighty Allah to reside them in the paradise and give their families patience and satisfaction with His Will.

 

 

 

 

[1] Sayyed Sulaiman al-Nadwy, The Massage of Muhammad, Trans. Muhammad Nazim al-Nadwy, Dar Ibn Kathir, Damascus, 1431 A.H./2010 C.E., p. 117.

[2] Narrated by Al-Bukhari (5414), on the authority of Abu Hurairah.

[3]  Sayyed Sulaiman al-Nadwy, The Massage of Muhammad, p. 118.

[4] See the text of  Constitution of al-Madina  in:  Al-Amwal" by ibn Zinjawaih (2/466); Serah of Ibn Hisham (1/501); Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir(4/555).

[5] Narrated in Musnad Aby al-Imam Ahmad (22397) on the authority of Thawban; the hadith is rated as good.

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